When united Andhra Pradesh was divided to form the new states of Telangana and AP, the latter’s Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu came up with a vision for a new state capital – Amaravati. 38,581 acres of fertile cropland along the Krishna river, between Guntur and Vijayawada, are to become the site of that dream.
But the cost of that vision is some of the richest agricultural land in what the state itself calls the food bowl of the region. To bypass the complications of the Land Acquisition Act, and ostensibly make the building of the new capital an affordable project, the AP government turned to a new method to get land – land pooling.
In land pooling, farmers do not get monetary compensation for their land, but a proportionate piece of developed property in the new city. While they are paid a pension for 10 years, the rising value of land prices in the city will eventually compensate them for the land they gave up.
However, things on the ground have not progressed smoothly. A group of about 500 farmers, whose land sits at the heart of the proposed city plan, have refused to participate in land pooling as they worry the city won’t come up. And there is great uncertainty about whether the Amaravati project will meet its deadlines correctly.
But agriculture in the area is already being stopped by the government. Caught between the promise of a future city and the uncertainty of government offers, Amaravati’s farmers worry over what the future holds for them.
Watch the video on the price of a dream city here: